Suit: New Mexico jail let inmate get drugs, hang himself

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) – A lawsuit says a New Mexico jail failed to stop an inmate from getting heroin and didn’t provide proper psychiatric care before he killed himself.

The family of Joseph Barela says in a new lawsuit a private prison company operating Torrance County jail let the inmate get access to suboxone and lethal black tar heroin. Court documents say when Barela was moved to solitary confinement in November 2013 for refusing a drug test jail officials ignored suicidal signs and left him without treatment for a week.

The lawsuit, now in federal court, says Barela later hanged himself using a shredded bed sheet.

Jonathan Burns, a spokesman for the Nashville, Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America, says the company’s lawyers are reviewing the lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount in damages. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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